Sunday, September 28, 2008

The End Has Come: Jesus is Almost Here

Prayer meeting is always a welcome haven from the challenges of the working week. We've been studying concepts based on the Adventist classic "Preparation for the Final Conflict" by Chaij. Our pastor really believes that these recent economic troubles are a signal that Christ is at the gates. Not just coming soon, but actually coming in no time at all.

This sense of urgency has affected me more than I'd like. While I'm glad Christ is coming in no time at all, it also has made me overwhelmed at what that entails about the End Times. I'm almost thinking of putting everything else on hold since Christ's coming is months or a few years from now.

It is exciting, but it's challenging as I have to continue living my life. Just today I considered not buying anything at all as far my hobbies are concerned, because there's no time for hobbies anymore. Again, I'm not sure that living like that is potentially healthy, but then again, if these are the last days, months or years of planet Earth's history, who has time for hobbies anymore?

In church we recently watched a video about pastor David Gates. He's a very spiritual and knowledgeable man who outlines just how close we are to the End of Time. If you want to check out his major sermons, The Approaching Storm series, the link is attached:

How will this all turn out? At what point do we stop blogging and focus on what the Lord impresses us to do to get ready to meet him in the immediate future. We can't speak of Jesus coming soon anymore. We've been saying "soon" for 2,000 years. It makes no sense to speak of soon. Why not simply say that Jesus is almost here.

I really do believe that Jesus Christ is coming back in my lifetime.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ellen G. White and the Positive Thinking Movement

Christian approaches to the role of the mind and the power of positive thinking may seem like odd bedfellows to some. Nevertheless, Norman Vincent Peale (Power of Positive Living,) Robert Schuller (Move Ahead With Possibility Thinking ,) and Joel Osteen (Your Best Life Now) are examples of past and present Christian ministers who brought this approach to large numbers of people.

The secular world also has its gurus that promote positive thinking. Louise Haye (You Can Heal you Life Now), Wayne Dyer (Inspiration : your Ultimate Calling) and of course, Rhonda Byrne (The Secret).

Without having read Schuller's work I became aware of his popular book in the early 70s as I was canvassing door to door with Adventist literature. One of the couples I met spoke to me enthusiastically about the power of positive thinking. I had already been thinking along those lines although I cannot pinpoint how I arrived at such an attitude. I know I believed deeply in positive thinking as I had just converted the year before to Christianity and everything seemed suddenly sunnier in spite of the imperfections of young adult life continuing in my own life.

Actually, come to think of it, a year before the encounter with the lady who was a Robert Schuller fan, I had taken part in The Positive Way at Atlantic Union College. Most of it was based on Glenn Coon's system of claiming bible promises. The other significant component was Ellen G. White's Christ Object Lessons. However, because of limited free time due to school work it was not actually studied in the course even though it was handed out as one of the seminar materials.

I lost my original paperback copy years ago and I recently purchased a hard cover version of this excellent book. I read it for a bit then became sidetracked with other spiritual books, and the greatest side tracker of them all, the Bible.

In Ellen White's time the positive thinking movement, or the New Thought Movement, had its beginnings. I know that because contemporaries of Ellen White's are the ones mentioned in Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. One example might be William Walker Atkinson (1862–1932) who wrote and published Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World. Three of its tenets that can be found in Ellen White's work are the following: 1) divinely attuned thought is a positive force for good, 2) all disease is mental in origin and 3) right thinking has a healing effect.

My recent fascination with wanting to read Christ's Object Lessons stems from trying to find these and other New Thought movement influences in Ellen White's work, especially Christ's Object Lessons. Of course, she focuses on Christ's parables and not just on positive thinking for the sake of positive thinking.

Recently I reached for Christ's Object Lessons again and am looking forward to studying its life-affirming chapters because of a fascination with how Ellen White approaches the positive thinking lifestyle.